Sunday 22 April 2012

Stanwell Moor - 21 April 2012

Back to reality - a morning visit to Stanwell, to finish off some outstanding work and just to see how things were. The lake has visits from Common Terns, but the birds have nothing to rest on, so I put up a wood frame in the hope it may attract odd birds to stay over the water of a little longer than normal. We only set up in the willow/carr area, which is a great confined area for an evening visit, especially post breeding and Hirundine roost time, but for a  morning session ti is a little to confined. The catch was as expected not high, but we did manage our first Reed Warbler of the summer and at least two Cetti's were present. A few Swallows were seen but non of the local House Martins seemed to have arrived back as yet. The team at Wraysbury managed a Tree Pipit and Redstart so there was some movement going on.

Reed Warbler

Catch (8):

Blackbird - 1
Song Thrush -2
Reed Warbler - 1
Blackcap - 2
Chiff-chaff - 1
Reed Bubnting - 2

Cyprus 31 March - 14 April 2012 Week 2

Week 2

Day 8 7 April

The fourth session was back at the Xeros site, but further down towards the sea, a few metres inland of the river out flow in an area of reed and low scrub, using 3 x 60 metre 4 panel nets and 1 x 40 metre 3 panel net.

The species caught were fairly evenly spread with 8 species caught, with the highlights being another Crested Lark, with 20 birds caught in total. One Sardinian Warbler caught had been ringed previously, 28194, details of which are awaited.

Totals (19 new and 1 re-trap) were:

Kingfisher 1
Crested Lark 1
Song Thrush 1
Cetti’s Warbler 2
Reed Warbler 4
Sardinian Warbler 4 (1)
Blackcap 5
Great Tit 1


Sardinian Warbler - very dark headed female, with brood patch

In the afternoon whilst doing some birding at Anartia Park we came across a flock of migrating Ortolans which often are found in the hilly areas. We decided to set up the two 40 3 panel nets in an effort to try and see if we could catch any, but despite the birds remaining in the area and one bouncing out of the net, we failed to catch any, but as a bonus we caught four birds, one of which was a Cyprus Warbler, and two Spectacled Warblers.

Totals (4) were:

Cyprus Warbler 1
Spectacled warbler 2
House Sparrow 1 

 Spectacled Warbler - male


Cyprus Warbler - male

A walk around Paphos Headland in the late afternoon produced a Richard's Pipit and an Eastern Orphean Warbler.

Richard's Pipit - Paphos Headland

Day 9 8 April

Today we again braved the mosquitoes at Akrotiri, only to find that there was still little other than Wheatears about although a couple of Woodchat Shrikes and a Wryneck were seen. We were treated to 30+ Night Heron at Bishops Pool, some Tree Pipits, two Wood Warblers and an Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler. At Ladies Mile there was evidence that Little Stints were going through with circa 60 birds seen.

 Glossy Ibis - Phassouri RB

  Spur-winged Plover - Phassouri RB

Wood Sandpiper - Phassouri RB

 Kentish Plover - Akrotiri GP

 Isabelline Wheatear - Akrotiri GP

The fifth session was in the evening and spent back at the open site we had tried on the now rapidly reducing River Xeros in the hopes of catching Wagtails that might be tempted to use the river bed as a pre-roosting bathing/drinking area. There were plenty in and around the area but catching any was by no means going to be easy with a fairly large area for them to roam around. The first bird caught was a Red-throated Pipit, followed by five flamissiva wagtails of the Black-headed race and a Common Sandpiper. While taking the nets down we were skimmed by some 20 or so Swallows coming in to roost. If only we had been less timely in packing away – still perhaps another day……. There was a small group of Little Egrets present containing one grey bird, which was not a Western Reef Heron, unfortunately.

Totals (7) were:

Common Sandpiper 1
Red-throated Pipit 1
  Syke's Wagtail 1
Black-headed Wagtail 4

Red-throated Pipit

Syke's Wagtail

Common Sandpipier

 Black-headed Wagtail

Day 10 9 April

The Paphos area was still lacking in numbers of birds so the morning was spent walking the gorge at Avgas. A Wallcreeper had been reported from the area where the gorge begins to widen, from before the weekend but we waited until the locals would not be visiting. We walked the whole of the gorge and Chris explored a little further, checking the rock-face beyond where it had been seen. It did seem like looking for a needle in a haystack and the pairs of Jackdaw that were beginning to take up residence did not look like the most tolerant of neighbours. No wonder the Wallcreepers have usually left before April. Needless to say we did not see any Wallcreepers and only saw our first Eastern Olivaceous Warbler. There was also a Wood Warbler along with some Blackcaps.  Later we visited Cape Dreparnum that has been spoilt by more development with access to much of the coast blocked. Some Wagtails had come in and we also saw a Woodchat shrike. Moving on to Mandria we found circa 1000 Wagtails feeding on a cut field and watched as a female Hen Harrier made an attack. Two Bimaculated Larks were found in another field. At Kouklia we had a male Pallid Harrier.

Avgas Gorge

In the evening at the River Xeros we stopped off in the hope of catching the Swallows at pre-roost feeding site. Despite a large number of Swallows present augmented by lesser numbers of Sand Martins, flying fairly low around us we only managed to catch one. Whilst operating we had an interesting visit from a passing local, who was shown our Game Fund Licence to ring (who also enforce unlawful bird trapping), he engaged in conversation and end up telling us he had a bigger net, that we were in the wrong place to catch the Swallows (which were mainly flying low over a nearby filed), that we should go into an orchard in the autumn and set up when they are sleeping and we would catch 100s when they wake up, pointing out the orchard he uses in the autumn! He just did not seem to see any difference in what we were doing and what he does in the autumn. But, he did ask were we being paid to do it. So, is this a route into taking trappers away from taking the birds rather than releasing them?

Total (1) was:

Swallow 1

Day 11 10 April

In the morning a visit to Paphos Headland was notable for the lack of birds. We then went to Anarita Park where we had a female Montagu’s Harrier, Great Spotted cuckoo and up to 18 Ortolan Buntings. At Mandria we had seven Baltic Gulls go by, having missed the morning Heron passage. But amongst 20 odd Little Egrets on the Xeros Potamos was a grey phase bird.

Little Egret - grey phase

We had another evening session back at River Xeros Potamos, again in the hope of catching Wagtails and Swallows, but this time we approached the swallows from the opposite side adjacent to the field they often feed over. Yet again they were not overly obliging and the catch again was low, despite large numbers still being present. A Merlin was flying through at a pretty fast pace.

Totals (8) were:

Crested Lark 1
Swallow 4
Black-headed Wagtail 1
Zitting Cisticola 1
Sardinian Warbler 1 

Zitting Cisticola  

Day 12 11 April

Today we returned to a morning session at Kouklia river bed, which turned out to be our best day of the two weeks, producing 45 birds, with a good mix of birds, with the highlights being a Wryneck, Bluethroat, Black-eared Wheatear, two Savi’s Warblers, an Eastern Oliveaceous Warbler and three Ruppell’s Warblers. We also saw a Great Reed and Subalpine Warblers.

Totals (42 new and 3 re-trap) were:

Kingfisher 1
Wryneck 1
Crested Lark 1
House Martin 1
Bluethroat 1
Black-eared Wheatear 1
Cetti’s Warbler 1 (3)
Savi’s Warbler 2
Sedge Warbler 3
Eastern Oliveaceous Warbler 1
Sardinian Warbler 1
Ruppell’s Warbler 3
Lesser Whitethroat 2
Whitethroat 1
Blackcap 20
Chiff-chaff 1
Great Tit 1

Black-eared Wheatear, eastern race

Eastern Oliveaceous Warbler


Ruppell's Warbler - male

Afterwards we paid a visit to Timi Forest where we had another Wryneck and the first Pied Flycatcher.

Mid afternoon, we had a try back at the Xeros Potamos river, in a new area on the other side of the river, but this time our targets were some of the many Wood Sandpipers present, along with a few Ruff and other Sandpipers. We had some success and managed to catch two.

Totals (2 new) were:

Wood Sandpiper 2

Wood Sandpiper

Day 13 12 April

After the previous day’s success we returned for another morning session at Kouklia river bed. As we were setting up it was obvious that there had been a fall of Ortolan Buntings with about 30 birds in a small flock moving around the site. The day was slightly less productive than the previous day with 39 birds caught with the highlights being a Ruppell’s Warbler and eight Ortolan Buntings. We also had seven Bee-eaters overhead as we packed up, alas too high up to be able to enjoy the birds at their best.

Totals (32 new and 7 re-traps) were:

Tree Pipit 1
Cetti’s Warbler 0 (3)
Savi’s Warbler 1
Sardinian Warbler 1 (2)
Ruppell’s Warbler 1
Blackcap 14 (2)
Greenfinch 4
House Sparrow 1
Spanish Sparrow 1
Ortolan Bunting 8

Ortolan Bunting - male

 Spanish Sparrow - male

Tree Pipit

Blackcap - male

Greenfinch - male

A visit to Anarita Park produced a female Pallid Harrier and two male and a female Montagu’s Harriers. Timi Forest produced in addition to the Pied, a Collared Flycatcher. A visit to the Xeros Potamos river and Paphos headland produced no new birds.

 Paphos Headland at dusk

Day 14 13 April

Our third morning in succession, back at Kouklia river bed, with today only producing 24 birds. Highlights were two Nightingales and a single Ortolan Bunting. We also had a local re-trap Sardinian Warbler, which was ringed by us in the area previously on 16/4/2010 as a 6M. A couple of Ruppell’s and a Subalpine Warbler were also seen.

Totals (20 new and 4 re-traps) were:

Crested Lark 1
Nightingale 2
Cetti’s Warbler 0 (1)
Sedge Warbler 0 (1)
Sardinian Warbler 0 (1)
Blackcap 15 (1)
Spanish Sparrow 1
Ortolan Bunting 1

 Paphos Blue - Kouklia

Woodchat Shrike - Xeros Potamos river bed

 Squacco Heron - Xeros Potamos river bed

Having got up some enthusiasm from yesterday’s mid afternoon visit back at the Xeros Potamos river we went back for a further attempt for waders, this time trying both sides of the river and managed to catch eight birds in total. Whilst watching the waders come and go from the catching area we found a Collared Praticole roosting on a small sandbar in the middle of the river, a couple of Curlew Sandpipers, an Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler and Redstart.

Totals (8 new) were:

Little Ringed Plover 4 
Wood Sandpiper 4
Little Ringed Plover

 One of the Xeros Potamos flooded areas

Day 15 14 April

A final day morning visit to Paphos Headland was no exceptional but had the feel that something might turn up, it did, but in the form of a female Hooded Wheatear, initially reported as a Kurdistan Wheatear at Akrotiri GP. The headland produced a Lesser Short-toed Lark, seven Black- eared Wheatears, the first Whinchat and a Redstart. On the way to the airport we stopped off at the pools alongside the Ezousa river at Achelia and had excellent views of two adult and one sub adult Little Bitterns flying around together with one male and two female Little Crakes.

 Lighthouse at Paphos headland

The following day, after our departure, two other Hooded Wheatears turned up, with one at Mandria and another on Paphos Headland. There have now been five Hooded Wheatears in Cyprus, so far, this spring !

Cyprus 31 March - 14 April 2012 Week 1

Week 1

Day 1 31 March

We had a leisurely start from The Hilton Hotel, Gatwick and had plenty of time for breakfast before the 8.50am flight. There were no delays and considering that this was the first day of the Easter break, the numerous children on the flight were really quite well behaved. On arrived, our luggage had also made it to the destination (always a bonus) and we had collected the rental car and were off to check out our usual haunts by 4.00pm local time. It was clear that much of the overflow from the reservoirs had reshaped many of our usual watch points and ringing sites. We were met with mud that had engulfed the areas where we had worked in previous years, badly damaged track ways that had been cut short altogether in some cases (might have turned into a poolside holiday if we’d not gone for a 4 wheel drive) and vegetation that had gone completely do-lally. That said, it was looking excellent for birds, we just needed to find them.

But, spring migration as it turned out was pretty slow during our two week visit and many species that often are fairly common were seen in low numbers or absent.

During our run around we saw the only Turtle Dove of the visit at Mandria together with an Isabelline Wheatear and the lower pools on the Xeros Potamos river produced a small mixed bag of Herons and Waders including a Squacco Heron and two Spur-winged Plovers.

Spanish Sparrows

Xeros Potamos river floods by the desalination plant
Day 2 1 April

Today we scouted around locally, partly to work out where to utilise as ringing sites, not really coming up with any good solutions due to the changes along the river beds.

First of all we made a birding visit to Paphos Headland to find with disappointment that much of the cover so relied upon by sculkers and tired migrants around the tip had been grubbed out. There were a few Wheatears and a Cretzschmar’s Bunting about but not too much else so we moved on to Acheleia, now unworkable at the river-mouth. Anarita Park was the next port of call, still quiet be we did notice that Stonechats, usually gone by our April visits were still there and a Blue Rock Thrush, two Long-legged Buzzards and a couple of  Spectacled  and a Ruppell’s Warbler were located.  We also, during our travels, met up with Alan Crabtree and collected our rings.

Paphos Headland

after some rather annoying tree removal leaving the area rather open


Cretzschmar’s Bunting

Day 3 2 April

A trip over to the Akrotiri area is usually a worthwhile idea, and we went mainly as we couldn’t get our heads around the ringing scenario in spite of having rings now, and it turned out to be a good day. There were only a few smaller migrants on the move but in the Akrotiri GP area we come across 3 Demoiselle Cranes (life ticks for both of us) that we believed to have departed some time before, then stumbled across an Isabelline (Turkestan) Shrike near Agios Georgios (at the same time as a local bird watcher). In the area we also had a Great Spotted Cuckoo, five Isabelline Wheatears, three Masked Shrikes, a Woodchat and a Ruppell’s Warbler. Driving along the road that runs from Akrotiri to Ladies Mile we found one of a few European Bitterns that were going through on the day, hunting in the long grass. In the bushes beside the salt lake opposite St Nicholas’ Monastery we had single Subalpine and Eastern Bonelli’s Warblers and a Redstart. On our way back to Paphos we stopped off at lower pools on the Xeros Potamos river where around 30 Glossy Ibis went over and a Water Pipit was present.

 Isabelline (Turkestan) Shrike Akrotiri GP

 Demoiselle Cranes Akrotiri GP
Bishop's Pool

Great Bittern Akrotiri

Cattle Egret Phassouri RB

Day 4 3 April

An early start to get over to Lara, but still no ringing opportunities were to be had, mainly as we could not find an area suitable to set more than one net in, or when we did find somewhere, that did not have herds of goats nearby. The birds just weren’t about in numbers. We did manage to see a Black Francolin and Quail, and after a most uncomfortable detour across the top, during which time we saw a pair of Bonelli’s Eagles at a usual nesting site with one chick in the nest. We later met up with Alan Crabtree to collect the missing B+ rings, and he suggested a trip along the coast to Pomos and recommended a restaurant for lunch. On route, when about 10 minutes away from Pomos we received a call telling us about a Trumpeter Finch at Pomos Point, next to the restaurant, and therefore within a few minutes we were watching the most obliging little bird.
Black Francolin Lara

 Trumpeter Finch Pomos
 Evretou Dam


Day 5 4 April

This was our first am ringing session having settled on two potential main areas, this one being along the River Diarizos at Kouklia between the motorway and the sea. The other was going to be along the River Xero Potamos, again between the motorway and sea, although the river at this location had areas where it was fairly shallow and water spread across the river bed, with wet pools.

We set up in an area that we had used on a previous occasion but due to the high water levels we were restricted to one side of the river and this prevented us from going down  towards the sea as about 60% of the way down, the track had been washed away. The area consisted mainly of bushes and scrub, mostly below 2/3 metres in height. We set up 2 x 60 metre 4 panel nets, 2 x 40 metre 3 panel nets and 1 x 40 metre 2 panel net.

As often is the case in Cyprus the catch was dominated by Blackcaps, but in total we caught 10 species with the highlights being a Wryneck and female Ruppell’s Warbler, with 30 birds caught in total. We also saw a second Wryneck in the field.

Totals (30):

Wryneck 1
Song Thrush 1
Cetti’s Warbler 4
Sedge Warbler 1
Reed Warbler 1
Sardinian Warbler 5
Ruppell’s Warbler 1
Lesser Whitethroat 3
Whitethroat 1
Blackcap 12

Sardinian Warbler - female

Sardinian Warbler - male 


 Ruppell's warbler - female

 Flood damage to track Kouklia river bed

Aferwards we birded a few local areas, first of all dropping in at Mandria. Whilst driving along a track next to a freshly cropped potatoes field Denise noticed what she first thought was an odd Wheatear. As we drove closed, a Wheatear sized bird that was on the ground flew up and as it did a bird with a longish red tail flew onto the ground, up and off to a nearby bush, which looked like a red tailed Shrike and when scoped turned out to be another Isabelline (Turkestan) Shrike. The Wheatear sized bird was relocated on top of a water sprinkler ands turned out to be a male Siberian Stonechat. Later we managed to pick up two Bimaculated Larks in the same field. An evening walk around Paphos headland produced a Wryneck, Richards Pipit, Subalpine and Ruppell’s Warblers.

Day 6 5 April

Our second am ringing session was at the other river site along the River Xeros Potamos near Asprokremnos Dam, again between the motorway and the sea. The area was an open area alongside the river with a series of flooded pools, with virtually no covering vegetation. The main target was Pipits/Wagtails and waders using the pools. We set up 2 x 60 metre 4 panel nets, 2 x 40 metre 3 panel nets and 2 x 40 metre 2 panel nets. Unfortunately the fact we were present in the area tended to keep most of the birds away, especially the waders as the feeding in this area was marginal and once disturbed they stayed in the better sheltered feeding areas just a few metres up river. The catch for the session consisted of one bird, a Crested Lark.

Present were a female Hen Harrier, three Red-throated Pipits, a Black-eared Wheatear and two Ruppell’s Warblers

Total (1):

Crested Lark 1

Crested lark

 Common Sandpiper

In the afternoon we shot over to the Akrotiri area to find that in the afternoon, the mosquitoes were even more intolerable. Phasssouri RB produced a male and female Little Crake. Akrotiri GP area held two Wrynecks, three Isabilline Wheatears and an Eastern Orphean Warbler.

Cattle Egret Phassouri RB

 Phassouri RB, temporary hide built when little water

Garganey Phassouri RB

 Wryneck Akrotiri GP

Day 7 6 April

Our third session was back at the Kouklia site this time using 3 x 60 metre 4 panel nets, 1 x 40 metre 3 panel net and 1 x 40 metre 2 panel net.

Again Blackcaps dominated, with 7 species caught, with the highlights being two Nightingales, with 26 birds caught in total. We also saw an Eastern Orphean Warbler.

Totals (22 new and 4 re-traps) were:

Nightingale 2
Cetti’s Warbler 0 (2)
Sardinian Warbler 2 (2)
Lesser Whitethroat 1
Whitethroat 1
Blackcap 13
Great Tit 3


A visit to Anarita produced two Isabelline Wheatears, eight Black-eared Wheatears and a Masked Shrike while Mandria had a female Hen Harrier, single Bimaculated Lark, four Isabelline Wheatear and a couple of Ruppell’s Warblers.